|The beginning of Not Breaking the Chain|
As I read Steven Pressfield's The War of Art, I eventually found myself wondering where I was giving into the Resistance. It takes his entire Book One (pages 5-57) to define the Resistance. Generally speaking, it is anything and everything that keeps you from harnessing your creative side.
My Creative Side
Along with the occasional blog post (writing), I think my creative expression is most prominent in my home brewing. I like to make really good beer, and I've always wanted to gain the knowledge it takes to create my own recipes. It does not take much to create a recipe. Make sure some malts, hops, yeast, and water are included and you have a recipe.
That is not what I'm talking about, though. I want to create recipes that make outstanding beer. I want to become a better brewer.
However, I've been fighting the Resistance without even realizing it. It was telling me things like
- "There's plenty of craft beers out there to choose from. There really is no need to brew your own beer."
- "It takes several hours to brew a batch, and you don't have that kind of time."
- "You're probably never going to make a pilsner-lager, so there is no need to read that email from Brad Smith."
So I made a game plan on how to fight this Resistance. A while ago, I commented on Jonathan Vieker's wonderful blog post, The Secret to Doing Hard Things Daily. In that comment, I vowed to "use this method of not breaking the chain to achieve the next big goal, whatever that may be."
The chain to which I was referring is the streak of days in which you have devoted to building the habit or skill you want to build. Once a solid streak is in place, you don't want to break that chain.
The reason it works is as Jonathan says,
It substitutes a highly specific, immediate goal (avoid the psychological pain of seeing the chain broken) for a vague, long-term goal (develop a new skill or habit).
How I'm Going to Do It
Obviously, I cannot brew every day. I do not have the time, money, or the desire to do such a thing. The good thing is, that you don't have to brew every day to get better at brewing. There is plenty of literature out there about brewing, and there is always something that needs cleaned, measured, or manipulated in the brewing process.
My plan is to devote some block of time to the following every day.
- Brewing better beer
- Pre- and post-brewing related activities (yeast starters, dry hopping, racking, cleaning, etc.)
- Learning about brewing (reading literature or newsletters, listening to podcasts, attending conferences, etc.)
- Writing about brewing
Last night, I began reading the book For the Love of Hops, by Stan Hieronymus. Today, I have a keg and tap to clean since I just cashed my Mosaic IPA. There are home brewing podcasts that I can download for when I'm traveling or walking back and forth to work. I have 54 emails in a folder labeled "Home Brewing" from Brad Smith (his Beer Smith Home Brewing Newsletter).
In other words, there are things I can choose to do that will take 5 minutes, and some that will take 5 hours. Whatever I choose, I'm not going to break the chain.